Wednesday July 24, 2024

RAW deal

By our correspondents
March 30, 2016

The joint press conference held by ISPR Director General Asim Bajwa and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid was unprecedented in more ways than one. We had the two main spokespersons of the military and civilian setup acting in concert against a perceived external threat and, for once, bringing the public into confidence about an intelligence matter. In playing the six-minute video of alleged Indian spy Kulbhushan Yadav confessing to working for RAW to destabilise Balochistan and Karachi, Bajwa and Rashid wanted to show that Pakistan’s claims of India fuelling the separatist movement are true. While it will take time to break through the fog of secrecy, the one thing we can be sure of is that Yadav was up to no good. There is no reason for an Indian military official, whether active or retired, to be in Balochistan. What is more interesting for now is the timing, and more importantly, the announcement of his capture. It took place just one day before the visit of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani and a statement released by Pakistan said that we brought up the matter of RAW involvement in Balochistan. Rouhani, however, denied that it was ever mentioned. This contradiction is significant since Iran has always accused Pakistan of facilitating the cross-border movement of Sunni militants, something we can now pin on India. With an agreement on the gas pipeline nearing completion, it is important for us to pacify Iran. It should, however, be noted that Gen Bajwa did explain that the specific arrest of Yadav was not discussed with Rouhani but the overall involvement of RAW in Pakistan definitely was.

This Yadav video will also put India in a difficult position since its cover story of Yadav being a former naval officer who was in Balochistan of his own accord simply does not stand up to scrutiny. Since we are now cooperating with India on the Pathankot investigation and our probe team has reached the site of the attack, we can use Yadav’s confession as leverage to ensure that India does not unnecessarily blame us for impeding the investigation. The point of releasing the video now must also have been to show the world that it is not just Pakistan that needs to investigate the role of its citizens in attacks on Indian soil; India will now have to reciprocate and investigate its alleged involvement in Balochistan. It is still too early right now to say with any certainty what the whole truth is. But with this one press conference we have changed the usual equation of power in the region and for once are in a position to be asking the questions rather than being forced to answer them.